You Can’t Judge a Book by Its Cover, Part 2

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It’s been six years since I first wrote about how publishers feature other artists on books by legendary comics creator Jack Kirby, and four since Marvel/Disney settled out of court with the Kirby family. Sadly, little has changed in the interim.

Boomers, Behold!

Just released is the oversized, and I do mean big, Fantastic Four: Behold…Galactus! hardcover book of reprints from Marvel. Standing an unwieldy 21 plus inches tall, befitting the colossus World-Eating God, this would appear aimed at aging baby boomers with reading glasses near at hand. And yet, the powers that be deemed it necessary to commission a contemporary artist to illustrate the cover, one would guess not to alienate the younger market. The monochromatic, front row proscenium view lacks, to say the least, the power of the images within the volume itself.

Artwork by Alex Ross

Artist Roundup

In all fairness, Kirby is not the only creator/artist whose artwork appears within. In addition to his seminal cosmic run in Fantastic Four #48-50 and #74-77 in the mid-1960s, the book also includes issues #120-123 and #242-244, with art by John Buscema and story and art by John Byrne, respectively. No disrespect intended to cover artist Alex Ross, but they all deserved a better cover.

Original Fantastic Four cover introducing Galactus by Jack Kirby with inks by Joe Sinnott, coloring by Stan Goldberg and lettering by Artie Simek, 1966

To make matters worse, once again Kirby’s writing is completely ignored, with a penciler credit only. Considering that credited writer Stan Lee himself acknowledges Kirby’s creation of the Silver Surfer, if little else, this makes this lack of writer recognition that much more disrespectful at this late date. One would have thought that with court settlement Kirby’s contributions to creating the Marvel Universe would finally be recognized.

In his introduction Ralph Macchio credits Kirby first and foremost right up front as “co-creator” and notes only Stan Lee’s dialogue when discussing these stories, but that is as far as it goes. Why so circumvent? And why did Marvel choose not to reflect this in the book’s credits?

Clearly, we still have a long way to go.